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Perseids meteors reach peak – Alaska Highway News



One of the best and most anticipated meteor showers of the year will soon be lighting up the sky.

Every year the earth moves through a trail of debris from a passing comet and the result is the Perseids meteor shower, which takes place from mid-July to the end of August.

The meteor shower will peak between August 11 to 13 this year which means that will be the best time to see a meteor or what you may call a shooting star.


“But unfortunately, this year the Perseids won’t be as spectacular as last year in 2021 and the reason behind that is because we have a full moon coming up,” explained Malhar R. Kendurkar, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Prince George Centre.

Kendurkar said during the Perseids there are 100 to 150 meteors per hour, however, because of the full moon some of that light will block fainter meteors from view.

“But I’m hopeful because we are going to have lots of clear nights coming up. Every night has been clear so far, but tomorrow night and Friday night are going to be clear. Those two nights will be excellent.”

He added that Perseids is actually known for its fireballs, which are larger explosions of light and colour.

“Fireballs actually stay longer than an average meteor streak. So, an average meteor streak will stay like milliseconds or something but with Perseids you can actually see for one or two seconds sometimes. I have seen it for six seconds a couple of years ago.”

The meteors are visible because the Earth travels through the debris, ice and rocks, left behind from the passing Swift-Tuttle comet which was first discovered in 1862 by amateur astronomers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle.

Kendurkar said the last time this comet passed close to the earth, where it could be seen by the naked eye, was in 1992 and the next pass by of this comet will be in 2126.

How to see the Perseids

The best place to observe the Perseids meteor shower is just outside of town where it’s a little bit darker.

“The best place to see the meteor shower is of course to go out of town where there’s little to no light pollution and you don’t really need binoculars or a telescope to see this meteor shower,” explained Kendurkar.

“The trick is to take in as much sky as possible and just allow 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness because we are so used to seeing light and light pollution but eyes actually need time to adjust to the dark sky.”

He said travelling anywhere between 25 to 35 or 50 kilometres away from the city should be a sufficient distance.

“The peak will actually start in the early hours of the morning because that’s when the Perseids constellation actually rises in the northern hemisphere.”

The Prince George Observatory won’t be open in time for the Perseids as it’s closed for August and will be open again to the public starting on September 2.

However, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Prince George Centre has a lot of great resources on its website to help space enthusiasts.

There are tips on light pollution abatement, meteor detection, aurora forecast, clear sky chart as well as a sky map and space weather forecast.

Photo via Canadian Space Agency

Where the Perseids get their name

According to NASA, the Perseids get their name as they appear to come from the constellation Perseus, first catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.

“However, the constellation for which a meteor shower is named only serves to aid viewers in determining which shower they are viewing on a given night,” the space agency says on its website. “The constellation is not the source of the meteors.”

Perseus is a hero of Greek mythology, son of the god Zeus, and regarded as the founder of the ancient city of Mycenae. He beheaded the snake-haired monster Medusa by using a reflective shield to “turn her powers against her” and rescued princess Andromeda, daughter of Cepheus, king of Aethiopia, and his wife Cassiopeia, from being sacrificed to the sea monster Cletus.

From the Canadian Space Agency:

“According to the legend, Perseus’s most famous feat was defeating Medusa, the Gorgon sister with snakes instead of hair. Medusa would turn anyone who gazed at her into stone, and Perseus defeated her by using a reflective shield to turn her power against her. That is why Perseus is often represented holding her head. The star Algol, or demon star, in the constellation Perseus actually represents Medusa’s head.

“According to the myth, Perseus also married the princess Andromeda. They forever rest next to each other in the sky, as two constellations. You can find them in the sky close to the constellation Cassiopeia, Andromeda’s mother in the myth, a fairly easy constellation to find because of its W shape.”

Photo via Ontario Parks

​— with files from Matt Preprost, Elana Shepert

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'Astronomical lightshow' – Gazette



Next year, 2024, is Solar Eclipse Year.

A bird's eye view of a map of Mexico-U.S.-Canada with a line through it indicating the viewing path of the 2024 solar eclipse


On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the south Pacific Ocean, northern Mexico, across the U.S. and through the Atlantic provinces of Canada.

More importantly, the total solar eclipse will be visible from southwestern Newfoundland, in the areas of Stephenville and across central Newfoundland through Terra Nova Park and Gander.

A partial eclipse will be visible across the province, with St. John’s and Corner Brook just outside the range of a total eclipse, an 80 per cent eclipse in Labrador City and a 70 per cent eclipse in Nain.

The 2024 solar eclipse will be the first eclipse crossing the province since 1970 and the only one until 2079.

For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event to see a total solar eclipse in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Solar eclipses are special events in many cultures and have allowed scientists to make great discoveries.”

We are fortunate to even be able to observe a solar eclipse.

The Earth is the only place in our solar system where there is a moon that is about the same size in the sky (0.5 degree) as the sun.

Solar eclipses are special events in many cultures and have allowed scientists to make great discoveries.

When the moon passes in front of the sun, most of the light is blocked and we can see the sun’s corona (more about the corona below).

A note: make sure to wear appropriate eye protection during an eclipse to look at the sun.

A composite image of the sun during a solar eclipse, showing the sun from left to right with a partial block of light all the way through a complete block of light and then continuing to a clear view.
This composite image of 13 photographs shows the progression of a total solar eclipse, from right to left, at Madras High School in Madras, Oregon on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.

Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The late Dr. Jay Pasachoff, an American astronomer, was so inspired by solar eclipses that he chased them around the world to experience more than 70 eclipses in about 50 years.

In a New York Times 2010 op-ed, he wrote: “There’s also the primal thrill this astronomical lightshow always brings the perfect alignment, in solemn darkness, of the celestial bodies that mean most to us.”

There is the thrill of observing solar eclipses and there is the thrilling science of them, too.

Thanks to solar eclipses, we learn about the sun’s corona, a thin layer of plasma that is just above the sun’s surface.

We normally can’t see it because it is so thin and has such a small density, but the temperature of the corona is about one million degrees Celsius.

It is believed that the corona is related to the sun’s magnetic field and to things like solar flares and mass ejections.

These flares and mass ejections impact the Earth through space weather and the aurorae — phenomena that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere recognize as the Northern Lights.

Scientific discovery

And it’s not just the sun.

Solar eclipses were important to provide some of the early evidence of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

Einstein predicted that light is bent by the gravity of stars.

So, if we can see stars behind the sun, they will appear to be in a slightly different location in the sky relative to each other than when we see them normally.

In 1919 scientists observed stars behind the sun that became visible during a solar eclipse and found that, indeed, their observations agreed with Einstein’s theory.

Town of Gander a major partner

Solar eclipses are fantastic events that connect humans to nature, celestial bodies and to the universe.

Next year’s celebration is an opportunity to celebrate science, nature and humanity.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and excitement of its staff and council, Prof. Svetlana Barkanova, Department of Physics, Grenfell Campus, and I are partnering with the Town of Gander to host a solar eclipse viewing party on April 8, 2024, and a science festival in the days before the eclipse.

The sun is shown in black with a sliver of light showing on the top right side during a solar eclipse.
Some prominences are seen as the moon begins to move off the sun during the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon.

Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The town is excited to be a major partner bringing people from across Newfoundland and Labrador to learn, discover and experience a total solar eclipse together.

The town has pledged to develop a budget to assist with the costs of this unique science festival, along with providing facilities, viewing sites and in-kind assistance.

The event is being planned in collaboration with a continuing science and community outreach program led by Prof. Barkanova and her team.

They deliver a large-scale scientific and cultural outreach program for youth in our province, especially rural youth, girls and Indigenous students, and is currently developing in-person and online seminars and workshops leading up to the solar eclipse.

“It is an ideal chance for us at Memorial to do what we do best — share what is great about our fields.”

This is a call to faculty, students and staff at Memorial University across all campuses to join in the celebration and help it grow and expand.

Not only will we have the opportunity to experience an amazing celestial event, it is a chance to come together in central Newfoundland and share the stories of what we do at Memorial from how we understand the sun and moon in astrophysics, in cultures, in literatures, in humanities and so on.

This is a call to action for your involvement; more participating colleagues means more public talks, Science on Tap events, outreach in schools and more.

It is an ideal chance for us at Memorial to do what we do best — share what is great about our fields and do so around this rare event in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Come join in for Solar Eclipse Year 2024 in Gander. Contact me via email.

Co-authored by Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, Department of Physics, Grenfell Campus, and Brian Williams, tourism development officer, Town of Gander.

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Another Animal That Speckles with Age: Dolphins – Hakai Magazine



Article body copy

As humans age, our bodies are often graced with fine lines, gray hairs, and flecks of hyperpigmentation on our skin known as age spots. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins get spots with age, too. And as scientists have revealed in a recent study, the onset of dolphins’ speckling is so predictable it can be a noninvasive way to gauge the dolphins’ age.

Age is a crucial metric for understanding dolphin populations. Many ways of calculating a dolphin’s age exist, such as counting the layers of dental material in their teeth or analyzing DNA from a skin sample. But they’re all somewhat invasive. That’s why developing a model for estimating age by simply looking at dolphins’ dots is so interesting.

Ewa Krzyszczyk, a dolphin researcher at Bangor University in Wales who was not involved in the study, says the new technique “is a really useful tool.” By estimating a dolphin’s age, Krzyszczyk says, scientists can answer important questions, such as when a dolphin stops weaning, when it reaches sexuality maturity, or when a dolphin shows signs of deterioration from old age. “It gives a more well-rounded idea of what’s going on in your population that can then help with conservation,” she says.


Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins’ spots propagate up their bodies in a reliable way, offering a way for scientists to unobtrusively gauge a dolphin’s age. Video courtesy of Genfu Yagi

The discovery that dolphins’ dots reflect aging stems from research led by Genfu Yagi, a marine mammal researcher at Mie University in Japan. Previously, Yagi had analyzed a compendium of underwater footage taken of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Mikura Island, near central Japan. Since many of the individual dolphins were known from birth, Yagi could trace how their speckles emerged as they grew.

“The speckles first appear around the genital slit at 6.5 years of age,” says Yagi. Over time, he says, this treasure trail expands toward the head and up toward the back. By the time dolphins are around eight years old, speckles start on their chest, and by around 17, the spots reach their jaw. Wild bottlenose dolphins typically live between 30 and 50 years.

To use these speckles to estimate age, Yagi created a new system that quantifies the density of speckles on various parts of the body. This weighted speckle density score is then correlated with age. Yagi says his speckle-counting method works for dolphins between the ages of seven and 25 and has a margin of error of 2.58 years—more accurate than estimating age from DNA samples.

“The strength of this study is that it does not require special techniques, facilities, high costs, or any invasive surveying,” says Yagi. “Anyone can estimate a dolphin’s age.”

At the moment, Yagi’s formula can only be used for the Mikura Island Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin population because speckling onset could differ between geographic locations. He says, however, that the same modeling technique could work for other dolphin populations.

So far, dolphins are the only cetacean known to develop spots, with pantropical and Atlantic spotted dolphins getting dark spots on their bellies and light spots on their backs. Yagi says scientists don’t know exactly how or why these speckles form.

“This is a very rare trait, as few mammals other than dolphins continue to change body coloration throughout their lives,” he says.

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CME storm effect! Sun sparks auroras without even hitting Earth – HT Tech



CME is one of the most influential drivers of solar storms and leads to powerful Geomagnetic storms on Earth. According to NASA, they are huge bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by intense magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours. Although CMEs usually occur with solar flares, they can occur on their own too, and have the potential to disrupt sensitive electronics on Earth, as well as affect power grids. Surprisingly, a CME doesn’t need to strike Earth to have an effect.

Just a couple of days ago, a CME passed close by Earth and this caused, what is known as a, ‘Ripple Effect’. According to a report by, the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth suddenly rotated by almost 180 degrees. This usually occurs when a CME passes by closely. Despite the CME not striking Earth, it still had a spectacular effect on our planet. Auroras were seen and captured over the Arctic Circle.


The report said, “Yesterday, March 20th, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth suddenly rotated by almost 180 degrees. This kind of magnetic ripple is a typical sign of a CME passing nearby. The “ripple effect” ignited colorful lights inside the Arctic Circle.”

What happens when solar particles hit the Earth?

As the particles erupted during the CME reach Earth, they interact with Earth’s magnetic field and cause the formation of Geomagnetic storms. When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the planet’s magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.

Auroras form because of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun which sends solar fares hurtling towards Earth. Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

How NASA monitors solar activity

Among many satellites and telescopes observing the Sun currently, one is the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The SDO carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities.

They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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